Is this the most diverse set of housemates in BBNaija history?
Big Brother Naija has been going strong since the franchise returned solely to Nigeria in 2017. Before that time, the first season premiered in 2006, bringing people like Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Katung Aduwak, and Gideon Okeke to the limelight.
For many, that’s the element of the show they know, love and respect – the ‘making celebrities out of housemates’ part. But, there’s more. Big Brother Naija brings together people from different walks of life, socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities.
This year, the possible national unity that BBNaija works to showcase is very glaring. Perhaps, it’s because there are more housemates this year than the show has ever had. During the second season in 2017, there were only 14 housemates. The number increased in 2018 to 20, then in 2019 to 26. Because of the global Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the show changed its format. It reduced the number of housemates in the house to 20.
This year, there are 27 housemates from different tribes, states and professional backgrounds. They all also have entirely different marital levels. There are divorcees, married people, single parents, and so on. And in a time where size and colour diversity is more important than ever – the show also covers that ground. The show has someone for every category, from incredibly chiselled guys to ‘Fupa-forward’ men, slim girls to plus-size ladies, to dark, brown, and light-skinned people. So, no matter what category you fall into, there’s likely someone that represents you on the BBNaija ‘Shine Ya Eye’ season.
When you talk about the difference in socioeconomic status, the variables in the house are as clear as day. Let’s use the educational backgrounds as the yardstick for this conversation, and you’ll see what we mean.
This year, there is Angel, who dropped out of school two weeks into her first semester. She shared on the show, “I was at Unilag for two weeks and didn’t go for any lectures, so I dropped out because it was hard for me. I came from a high school where I was secluded, so it was not easy for me. I wasn’t into school because I didn’t even know what I wanted to do.”
Then there is Sammie, who is currently in his final year at Ahmadu Bello University studying Guidance and Counselling but wants to be a filmmaker. The 26-year-old produced his first short film in 2020 and now has his sights set on growing his YouTube series.
On the other hand, housemates like Yerins spent nine years in Ukraine studying to become a doctor, and there’s Beatrice, an economist. There’s also Boma, who had to drop out in his final year, as he couldn’t make ends meet. But then he saved enough money to pay for film school.
Usually, fans of the show expect that most people who come into Biggie’s house are single with maybe one married housemate. For the most part, the housemates are unmarried. Only about two members of that demographic are in relationships out of the house. However, this year, there are also more unconventional housemates.
In 2017, Thin Tall Tony was the only married person on the show. And there was Gifty, who was divorced and Bisola, who is a single mother. In 2018, Dee-one came to the show married, and Teddy A was a single father. In 2019, Mike Edwards went to the show married, and there was Venita, a divorcee and Avala, a single mother. The Lockdown gang in 2020 had Ka3na as the married woman, albeit separated from her husband and Wathoni as the single parent.
In 2017 and 2018, the married men hid their statuses. But, this year, Niyi and Tega came on the show loudly announcing that they were married. Niyi proudly waved his marriage flag wildly every time the housemates tried to get him to play adult games. He was always quick to tell them, “I’m a married man”.
On the other hand, Tega has been less focused on that fact and has made it a point to enjoy her time on the show – husband or not.
There are also more parents on the show this year than ever before. Niyi and Tega both have one son each. While Jackie B and Beatrice are single moms of one boy each. Jackie has had a challenging time leaving her son, telling Big Brother that she’s never been away from the boy for more than 2 weeks, and that’s the person she misses the most on the outside. Tega celebrated her son Jamil’s birthday in the house.
And there’s Boma, Beatrice and Pere who are divorced. Pere was married for a year to a woman in the United States. Beatrice was also married but said she had to leave the marriage over domestic violence. Boma, on the other hand, was married for six years and has shared some of the experiences with other housemates.
When the housemates were asked to do a presentation that borders on financial management in marriage, Boma tapped into his personal experiences to pull it together. He told Big Brother, “I am personalising the task as someone that was married. I think my experience here would play a part. I was married for close to six years, but I am divorced, and this topic was one of the reasons I got a divorce. So preparing for this was very personal. I have been able to share my experiences with the male housemates. They do want me to come in and close the debate because they think my points are solid coming from a personal experience and the points I have”.
The Big Brother audition format means that it leans more towards personalities than ethnicities. But one can’t help noticing that the housemates this year are as culturally diverse as they come.
The 27 ‘Shine Ya Eye’ housemates come from 17 states out of the 36 states in the country across all the geo-political zones.
For example, even though Sammie is from Kogi State, he was born and bred in Kaduna. Saskay and Jackie B are from Adamawa State – the North East. JMK and Yousef are from Kwara, and Nasarawa respectively, both in North Central.
Pere and Boma are from Delta state; Angel, Emmanuel and Queen from Akwa Ibom; Jaypaul and Tega from Cross River; Liquorose and Nini from Edo; Yerins from Bayelsa, and Peace and Beatrice from Rivers state; all representing the South-South.
Similarly, Arin and Saga are proud Lagosians, Kayvee is from Ogun State, and Niyi is a proper Oyo boy. They are all representing the South West. The South East isn’t left out with Maria and Princess representing Imo State, Cross from Anambra, Whitemoney and Michael from Enugu.
All in all, this year, the house is one interesting mix of diverse people with entirely different life experiences and knowledge. It makes the house fun and entertaining and makes it possible for viewers to see parts of themselves in various housemates. But most importantly, the diversity of the BBNaija Shine Ya Eye housemates forces us to face the fact that we could be one nation united by a common purpose regardless of our differences.